Promoting the digital growth of women's led businesses in our local area.

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The University of Winchester's Women in Digital Enterprise (WiDE) Centre is specifically designed to help women’s led businesses overcome traditional ways of working that do not take full account of the powerful dynamics of digital ‘connectivity’ with respect to enlarging their potential to make a lasting social and economic contribution.

Access to global networks is undoubtedly a catalyst for growth and opportunity. Recent trends in innovation management, changes in consumer behaviour and developments in interactive technologies are opening up the opportunity landscape for women, both as active contributors to society and as entrepreneurs. The University of Winchester's Women in Digital Enterprise (WiDE) Centre has been at the forefront of piloting women’s led business growth hubs through our aspirational ‘Women in Digital Enterprise (WiDE)’ programme that aims to upskill women’s led enterprises so that they can achieve higher personal and business growth.

Our Women in Digital Enterprise Centre is more than a source of regional research and knowledge exchange on the gender dimension of social, digital and economic mobility. Our Women In Digital Enterprise Centre is a source of regional expertise on the socio-economic impact of women’s engagement in social and commercial enterprise. The Centre embodies the University of Winchester’s commitment to lifelong learning as a public good while reinforcing the University’s outreach aims delivered through its Business Engagement Strategy.

The University of Winchester's Women in Digital Enterprise Centre also support the University's Employability Strategy as it provides opportunity for connecting our students to our WiDE network of women's led businesses.

About the project

Primary contact: Stella McKnight

Women in Digital Enterprise (WiDE) was one strand of the University of Winchester's HEFCE-funded Social Mobility Pipeline to Degree Apprenticeship Project led by Stella McKnight (detailed below). Our aim to support 100 women-led businesses to set up and to grow. WiDE was a fully funded programme, supported by NatWest Bank and Strategic Partners.

The WiDE Programme aim was, through six workshops, to introduce delegates to new ways to think about business growth, collaboration and including; how utilising the skills of Higher and Degree Digital Apprentices might help them achieve their growth ambitions.

The programme of workshops, delivered across 6 venues attracted women-led business attendees based in Andover, Basingstoke, Chandlers Ford, Guildford and in Woking. The WiDE accelerator also acted as an SME pipeline to Higher Degree digital apprenticeships that could prepare women (returners) for more rewarding, richer employment opportunities, and for self-employment through business start-up and growth by developing the following critical skills and competences:

  • Digital leadership as the link between innovation and leadership by developing women entrepreneurs’ ability to foster and sustain a digital transformation path, to inspire partners, stakeholders, customers and suppliers; to act with confidence, and to lead with lasting impact;
  • Digital productivity focusing on adopting readily available digital technologies to go lean, to be more productive, collaborative, knowledgeable and effective;
  • Financial intelligence embedding Cloud based business reports and accounting software as a basis to incorporate e-Commerce transaction capability within and across borders  

The programme ran over six sessions with five of those sessions taking place in the regional location and the final day of the programme at the University of Winchester Business School.

The Social Mobility Pipeline to Degree Apprenticeships Project

The University of Winchester was successful in leading a bid to link two major Government priorities in the interests of the region’s employers and those with the potential to take advantage of the Apprenticeship route, including to Degree Apprenticeships.

The Social Mobility to Degree Apprenticeships Pipeline project was launched with many of the University’s partners on 8 November 2017 by Professor Neil Marriott and Professor Pru Marriott at the University’s Business School.

Project aims

The project aim was to build a pipeline between those who are currently failing to progress to Degree Apprenticeships and employers who are seeking higher skills and a broader pool of applicants.

The project design allowed us to:

  • Identify and support those people who have been seriously under-represented in apprenticeships
  • Offer employers a wider group of applicants from more diverse backgrounds
  • Make Degree Apprenticeships an exemplar of diversity and widening participation
  • Build the capacity locally to deliver collectively and collaboratively the higher skills employers need today and in the future


Project Strands

Strand 1

Develop (3) Degree Apprenticeship pathways for ‘hard to reach’ young people

Strand 2

Increase women’s business growth through Digital Degree Apprenticeships

Strand 3

Establish full stakeholder engagement and business model

Strand 4

Pilot the widening diversity agenda on recruitment

Strand 5

Seamless integration by HE and FE to establish and deliver the higher level skills progression routes needed by regional employers to compete on a global scale

Strand 6

Establish the Centre for Apprenticeship Research and Knowledge Exchange (CARKE)